Ferris State University (FSU or Ferris) is a public university with its main campus in Big Rapids, Michigan, founded in 1884 as the private Big Rapids Industrial School by Woodbridge N. Ferris. In 1885, the industrial school changed its name to Ferris Industrial School. Ferris became a state institution after Governor G. Mennen Williams signed the bill accepting the institute as a gift to the State of Michigan in 1950 and was renamed Ferris State College in 1963. Ferris became a university in November 1987, gaining its current name.
Ferris is the ninth-largest institutions of higher education by enrollment in the State of Michigan with over 10,000 students studying on its main campus, at one of the 19 off-campus locations across the state, or online. Two- and four-year degrees are offered through eight academic colleges and graduate degrees from six. Ferris grants professional doctorate degrees via its optometry and pharmacy colleges and a multidisciplinary doctorate of education in community college leadership.
The Ferris State Bulldogs competes in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in all sports except men's ice hockey, in which the team is part of the NCAA Division I Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
In November 1987 the institution became Ferris State University. When Ferris became a state college in the fall of 1950, it had consisted entirely of one permanent structure, the Alumni Building, and some surplus Army barracks. At that time, fewer than 1,000 students were enrolled; there were fewer than 50 faculty members, and the campus itself covered less than 20 acres (8.1 ha). By contrast, current enrollment is more than 10,000, and the 880-acre (360 ha) campus contains 115 buildings, including educational, administrative, maintenance, student activity and residence hall facilities.